The Washington Post has a great photo of my friend Ally Burguieres playing video games with her mother and sister. The article says:
Women and girls make up 40 percent of the gamer population, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry’s trade group. And with game software sales at $9.5 billion last year, companies are paying closer attention to the titles women seek out…
For years, the video game industry spent its marketing dollars on trying to get guys excited about the latest sports or shoot-’em-up title. It was generally assumed that women and girls weren’t interested.
But that started to change in 2004, says industry analyst Michael Pachter, when Nintendo launched its DS portable game system, named for its dual screens. Its features stretched the notion of what a video game is — and who might want to play.
Women gamers even have their own website. And this is a delightful Amazon list of games for “women with lives.” It wasn’t that long ago that it was assumed that women would not be interested in games. Sheri Graner Ray, who says she got into the game industry in the first place “Because it was the only industry where I could list 15 years of running “Dungeons and Dragons” games on my resume as valid job experience!” She wrote a book about “gender inclusive game design.” Microsoft’s xBox brochure tells its buyers “Here are some things you might want to tell your wife this thing does.” Maybe with the next upgrade they will remember that women like Ally Burguieres, currently studying for her PhD in linguistics, don’t need anyone to explain it to them. Women are not just playing, they are entering tournaments.
Late last year, Nancy Davies, an 84-year-old woman living in a retirement community, defeated a real-life bowling champion in a Wii Sports tournament. She had been playing for only one year.
In honor of my son’s birthday this week, my DVD pick is one of his childhood favorites: Rocketeer. Based on a comic book that recreated the deco feel of the pre-WWII era, this Disney movie has a 1940s feel — with 1990s special effects. Cliff Secord (Bill Campbell) is a stunt flyer who discovers a contraption designed by Howard Hughes that, when strapped to his back and combined with a helmet for steering, allows him to fly. The equipment is being sought by the U.S. government and by thugs in the employ of sleek Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton), a swashbuckling movie star and Nazi sympathizer. Not a box office success when it first opened (“Terminator 2” opened the same week), it has been more successful on DVD because of its exciting story, top-notch performances (with Bill Campbell, sometime James Bond Timothy Dalton and Oscar-winners Jennifer Connelly and Alan Arkin), and gorgeous visual design and effects. It’s is the kind of movie they say they don’t make anymore, an old-fashioned popcorn pleasure with action, adventure, romance, a zeppelin, a pretty girl, and a guy who straps a rocket on his back and soars into the sky. NOTE: The movie has some comic-book style violence and some tense and scary moments. One of the bad guys has a misshapen face that may be upsetting to younger kids.
I’ve got a cute baseball-type cap for the new animated movie “Igor” — it goes to the first person to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Igor” in the subject line.
Thanks for entering!
Desson Thomson has a great interview with Scott Simon on NPR about cult movies — what (and who) defines them and what is appealing about them. What do the Coen brothers have in common with “The Wizard of Oz” and “Blade Runner?” Listen to Thomson and find out.
Entertainment Weekly has a list of the all-time top cult classics, though I’d argue that some of them, like “Blade Runner,” “Spinal Tap,” and “Willie Wonka” are now so firmly and widely established they are canonical. The A.V. Club has an edgier list and I like the way they helpfully point out the movies influenced by their choices and give their honest view of how well the films on the list hold up.
I don’t think a movie has to be a horror film or low-budget to be a cult classic. It just has to have a small but passionate audience. The best cult films gradually find a broader fan base — or maybe it just takes a while to find its audience — or for the audience to catch up to it. My favorite cult classics include Office Space and The Big Lebowski, a movie which is now so beloved it has annual gatherings of its fans.